You can also check out our Top 5 Favorite Crampons.
Did you know that more people die while alpine hiking than getting struck by lightning? Well, it sounds dramatic and dreadful. But lack of proper gear is the primary cause of most backcountry fatalities.
If you engage in winter hiking, then you understand how indispensable a crampon can be. But of course, similar to other winter gear, you do not want to fiddle with a substandard crampon. The chains breaking off on microspikes can be a nuisance when you are walking on flat terrain. However, a malfunctioning crampon can result in a fatality while you are hanging off an icy precipice.
On the other hand, not every climber can pay a premium price for crampons. This is especially true when you are beginning to test the waters of alpine climbing. Since you are still in the gear testing stage, you will understandably go through a number of crampons. So you need an affordable crampon that gives you a good performance too. This way, even if a couple of crampons break, which they will, you will not feel a severe pinch.
Are there any good, affordable crampons?
Affordability can be a very subjective matter. Irrespective of your climbing skills, some people are a lot more price-sensitive than others. So, to be fair to all parties, our choice of a budget crampon is below $150.
For alpine gear, it is very easy to assume that premium price equals quality. But this is not always the case. There is some gear that has exceptional features and does not cost a fortune. But yes, it does require some effort to find that elusive crampon. Therefore, while we hate to take all the credit, we have done some digging and found a great affordable crampon.
The crampon in question is the CAMP USA Stalker Crampon. The brand, CAMP USA, does not need an introduction. They have been putting out great outdoor gear for more than half a century. Camp’s gears are uniquely identifiable by their sleek Italian design. Moreover, most of their gears are also very lightweight. This is a fantastic feature, as even the slightest difference in weight can mean a lot when you are outdoors.
The Stalker crampon is everything you have come to expect from a great crampon. It has a great combination of features and performance that makes it an excellent choice for alpine activities. You will also find that this crampon is very beginner-friendly, so you can use it with absolute confidence. The addition of crampon accessories is something that one will find very useful, especially as you put the crampons to use.
If this crampon’s information has got you revved up to know more, let’s start right away. The FAQ section, at the end, also provides more insight into crampons. So take a look at the FAQs as well.
CAMP USA Stalker Crampon Review
Product Name: CAMP USA Stalker Crampon
Product Description: The Stalker Champion consists of Chromoly steel, thermoplastic, and nylon components. It has 12 points in total, with two prominent ones in the front. An anti-rolling plate made of Vibram is included with the crampons. The binding components, as well as the straps, are compatible with hiking boots, especially with those with welts.
Offer price: $119.95
This crampon from Camp performed exceptionally during our tests. We especially loved the angled two front points, which had impressive traction. The straps are another feature that was effortless to use. The Stalker Champion is a great choice for intermediate to advanced climbers. Nevertheless, we reckon it will also suit beginners very well. In addition to its great features, it has one of the most reasonable pricing for a crampon on the market.
Ease of Use
- Chromoly steel ensures reliability and durability.
- Provides excellent traction on flat and angled slopes.
- Fantastic for hiking and climbing.
- Comes with all necessary crampon accessories.
- Good construction and quality.
- Not meant for technical climbing.
- The metal frame needs tweaking to avoid cutting the shoes.
- You need to get the fit right, so it does not slip off.
The Stalker crampon is the ultimate combination of great features and performance. It is a universal crampon and is one of the best sellers from the brand. Find out more below of what it has to offer.
Material and design.
The Stalker features sleek Chromoly steel in the construction. For the uninitiated, Chromoly steel has a lot to offer. Chromoly steel is exceptionally sturdy and is commonly used where strength is a requirement. It is a little heavier than aluminum but lighter than traditional steel. Gear made of Chromoly steel has a slim outline and is also a lot more flexible.
Another fantastic advantage of this type of steel is its ability to resist corrosion. This means that the Stalker is exceptionally sturdy and also durable. The binding of this crampon consists of nylon straps and thermoplastic components. To secure the crampon to the boots, they use a simple metal bar. Anything made of Chromoly steel is not known for being affordable. However, Camp managed to make this crampon with this exceptional metal and kept the price minimal, which is quite an achievement.
The Stalker also comes with a great and practical design. It comes with dual front points that are slightly angled. In addition to the two front points, there are ten other points across the foot frame. Four of the points cover the heel while six hold their positions in the forefoot.
In terms of color, the thermoplastic components come in a wide range of colors. In some crampons, you will see the corresponding color on the metal frame as well. However, in some units, the colors are only present in the nylon straps. The rest of the frame is pretty minimal.
This crampon comes with anti-balling plates and a carry case. So you don’t have to buy additional accessories, which is great. A carry case is an important accessory both for convenience and safety. Since the spikes or points are quite sharp, it can end up ripping your clothes and your backpack. You might even cut yourself, especially if you are not used to handling crampons.
The Stalker’s horizontal front points work great on the ice. Because of their positioning, you get good traction irrespective of the angle you descend or ascend. The points perform well on ice and, even to some degree, on rocks. The distribution of the rest of the points also keeps the weight even and balanced.
The Chromoly steel ensures that you are well supported. Additionally, the rustproof component keeps the crampons in great condition. This crampon works best for general mountaineering. The combination of steel construction, as well as the front points, allows it to shine on the ice. You can also use these kicks for traversing snowfields and glaciers with ease.
However, the Stalker is not meant for technical or vertical climbing. You might be able to get some use out of mixed ice and rock climbing. In fact, they perform well in areas with lots of debris. This will require you to keep a constant eye on the points’ sharpness, but it is understandable. For vertical, technical climbing, we recommend something like the Black Diamond Stinger.
In terms of stability, this crampon is a total winner. This is especially true if you get them to fit the boots correctly. You will have no problems with the gear slipping off during use.
The anti-balling plates in these crampons are a nice touch. Although this is almost standard for crampons, anti-balling plates can be a great help. When you gradually get the rhythm of hiking up a frigid wall, balling snow into your footwear can be a definite spoilsport. The anti-balling plates on this crampon are made from Vibram, which is great. Since Vibram is thought to mimic the feeling of being barefoot, the plates do not reduce the comfort level at all. You won’t even notice that the plates are part of the crampon.
In case you run into any problems with the Stalker crampon, the three year warranty from the manufacturer should take care of it.
Ease of use.
The Stalker has a strap-on design. Along with that, the universal design makes this crampon fit almost all types of boots. We say almost because your boots need to have welts in order for the Stalker to be a great fit. Although this might sound like a drawback, almost all technical boots have welts. So this boot requirement shouldn’t be too much of a concern. This crampon also comes in a version with semi-automatic compatibility. If you’re not sure what this means, it works exclusively with mountaineering boots that come with welts.
Crampons that have a strap-on design are not the easiest to wear or take off. And the Stalker is no exception. In addition, if you do not pack these ones correctly, you will struggle to get them on to your boots. We found that adjusting the metal piece under the anti-balling plate made a huge difference here.
This crampon is relatively comfortable to wear. But you need to get the fit right in order to be most comfortable. The flexible clinking bars in this crampon also facilitate easy adjustment and comfort. If you get the fit too snug on the boots, the metal frame can cause friction. Bending the metal frame slightly took care of the problem. We reckon that if the metal keeps scraping the boot, it may even end up causing a tear.
The Stalker does require some minor adjustments every so often. However, there is nothing so major as to be a deal-breaker. Overall, this crampon is very comfortable to wear and easy to put on and take off. It is also easy to transport with the carry case, which makes it a total winner. Its affordability is just a great bonus and is the proverbial icing on the cake.
How compatible is the Stalker crampon? Is the CAMP Stalker compatible with B1 boots?
As briefly mentioned in the review above, the Stalker is compatible with most mountaineering boots. But if you are looking for specifics, we elaborate on them below.
The Stalker crampons come in two versions – Stalker Universal and Stalker Semi-auto. The Stalker Universal crampon is compatible with boots that have a B1 or B2 grade. B1 boots are also known as 3-4 season boots in some areas. B3 boots are very technical and almost exclusively made for C3 crampons, which the Stalker is not.
The Stalker Semi-Auto crampon has semi-automatic compatibility. This feature makes it compatible with mountaineering boots with welts. These boots are essentially mountain boots that have B2 grades. Boots with B2 grades are typically compatible with C2 crampons. However, in some cases, they can also work with C1 crampons if they are specially designed. And this is the case with the Stalker crampon.
Are there any differences between the Stalker Universal and Stalker Semi-Auto crampons?
There is no mention that there are two versions of the Stalker crampon anywhere on the internet. So it is easy to assume that these crampons are the same. In fact, if we didn’t check Camp’s website, we wouldn’t have known.
The two crampons are uncannily alike. So unless you are observant, you might miss the subtle differences. Below we mention the differences between Stalker Universal and Semi-Auto:
- The Universal has a universal binding with a thermoplastic heel. The thermoplastic, along with the nylon straps, secures the crampon to the boot. On the other hand, the Semi-automatic has a metal bar that secures the crampon to the boot. The binding is also semi-automatic in this one, as the name suggests.
- Stalker Universal weighs 885 gm or 31.2 oz. The Semi-Auto weighs a little bit more at 890 gm or 31.4 oz. The slight difference in weight is due to the metal bar at the back instead of the plastic.
- Universal is recommended for mountaineering and alpine activities. The Semi-Auto is for general mountaineering and other alpine outdoor activity.
- In terms of price, the Stalker Universal costs $119.95. The Semi-auto costs a little higher at $129.95.
What is so special about Chromoly steel?
It is easy to mention that a tool or gear is made of Chromoly steel and leave at that. However, for someone who is curious to know, there is more to this metal. What makes Chromoly steel is a combination of factors. These are:
- Chromoly steel is an alloy of chromium and molybdenum. This makes this metal exceptional in strength. It has the highest strength to weight ratio and is even better than standard steel. Because of this, Chromoly steel is preferred where strength is required, but weight is not.
- This steel that falls in the 41 series undergoes thermal treatment before welding and after. This prevents the metal from cracking even under extreme weather conditions.
- It is also very lightweight, so aircraft builders use it for its construction. It is no wonder that its other name is aircraft tubing.